Paper Boats

By Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva
Florence, Italy: Lyall F. Harris, 2017. Edition of 150.

8.5 x 8.75"; 144 pages. Printed digitally. Perfect bound. Paper-covered boards. In illustrated paper slipcase. Signed and numbered by both artists.

Paper Boats is a collaborative book project by Italian artist Patricia Silva and American artist Lyall Harris. Originally it was produced in an edition of 2 as part of their book art project "Meeting Places." This is the digital version in an edition of 150.

Artist statement: "A photo-documentary illustrates the distressing loss of identity taking place in contemporary mass immigration to Europe. The visual rhythm of the book works something like a meditation (vs. a political statement) – there are 100 images of hands with boats, interspersed with about 25 quotes (some in Italian) and 10 'portraits,' total page count is 144 – and we think it brings this content home in a striking way."

Lyall Harris: "In creative collaboration, what makes the co-created work seamless? How do combined efforts transform a creative project into something more than just the sum of its parts? Since 2014, Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva have produced a series of twelve collaborative bookworks.

"We set constraints for the process, both of materials and time, which forced us to work in an immediate, intuitive, and exploratory way. Our process began with one artist providing the inspiration and starting materials. The receiving artist then had only weeks to bring the project to a 'halfway' point, adding or editing materials sparingly during this phase. The project was then given back to the originating artist who finished the books (in an edition of 2). The varied work addresses issues and histories from our shared and layered perspectives as artists, mothers, daughters, wives, and expats in a changing and complex environment.

"Paper Boats began with a stack of origami papers, attendance booklets from the Third Order of Saint Francis, and images of paper cranes and Japanese prayer papers (o-mikuji). 100 boats were folded using papers with a 'sea' palette as well as upcycled Italian language books and maps. African, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European first names were printed on the attendance tickets along with a random number from 1 to 1,000,000. With the help of volunteer participants (faces, hands, statements), the project then became a photo-documentary about both our common humanity and the distressing loss of identity taking place in contemporary mass immigration to Europe."